“Dave, my computer’s broken and I’ve lost all my files”

I’ve heard this all too often.

“No problem, just restore from your backup,” I tell them.
“Ahh…I don’t have one,” is the standard reply.

So a job that might have taken a few hours to restore files, is now a few days removing drives to recover data onto a secondary system and restoring what data you can find.

Do I need a backup?

If you have nothing on your computer you’ll ever need again, then no, no backup required.

But most people do actually have data they’d like to keep.  Sadly they only think about backup after the disaster.  I’m not here to recommend any particular software.  Any backup is better than no backup.

Other options are storing copies of important files on a cloud storage platform.

Backing up commercial systems.

Now backups become important.  But again it’s only when a disaster occurs people think about backups.  What kind of strategy and how much money you spend on your commercial backup will depend on how important your computer system is to your business.

If you can survive a few hours you could get away with a simple storage solution.  You need to be online 100% you’ll need to spend money on having a ghost system running in tandem able to take over in an instant.

Two million pounds on a backup solution?  Sounds expensive, doesn’t it?  Not compared to the two BILLION that gets wiped of your stock price when the computer system failed.

Testing backup strategies.

You’ve got backups but you’ve never tried restoring them.  You DON’T have backups, you have possible backups.  If you’ve never tried restoring you’ll never know if they work.

“But taking the system offline to test costs money and time.”  More or less money than the cost when you do need to do a restore and nothing works?

There are loads of stories of restoring backups gone wrong.  Instead of a few hours, systems are down for days.

That’ll never happen.

Those words do not exist in backup planning.  You should be thinking ‘What if?’  What if someone unplugs this, what if someone deletes these, what if a bear gets in and savages the IT staff.

Never say never.

Check, check and check again.

If you’ve got one backup you have no backups

If you have two backups you have one backup.

Another problem is assuming a backup is working because it doesn’t say it’s failed.  If your backup should be taking up hundreds of terabytes but there are kilobytes instead, you’ve got a problem.  And if a drive fills up but your backup strategy fails silently,  you could end up with a backup so old it’s effectively useless.

Give someone the job.  Give them more money.  Make the backup their baby.  If they tell you they need something for the backup weigh up the cost against your entire system going down and not coming back.

Or would you rather explain to shareholders why the stock is worthless over a few thousand spent on IT infrastructure?

If you need any backup tips or advice, feel free to send me a message.